NJ Pen Elections 2023: Meet the Oaklyn School Board Candidates


This year, four Oaklyn residents are running for four open seats on the borough Board of Education. We invited each of them to tell voters a bit about themselves in the lead-up to the election.

By Matt Skoufalos | November 5, 2023

On November 7, voters in Oaklyn will choose from among four balloted candidates for four seats on the borough school board: incumbents Colleen Faupel, James McMillan, and Richard Taibi, as well as Jennifer Ritondo, who is running to retain her unexpired term.

We invited everyone to reply to the same set of prompts, telling voters about themselves, their priorities, and their views of the current state of the district. Answers were edited for clarity and length.


Jimmy McMillan. Credit: Jimmy McMillan.

James (Jimmy) McMillan, 46 (Incumbent)

Jimmy McMillan is Director of Engineering with Juniper Tech Team.

He enjoys hosting pizza parties, board gaming, discovering new foods and cultures, and engaging positively in the community.

McMillan is father to two school-aged children, and believes that any style of family can raise respectful and engaging kids with proper communication, patience, and love.

What is your philosophy of education?

Enable the children. Allow them with proper guidance to make their own decisions and learn from their mistakes. Show them the world, different cultures, and allow them to make unbiased decisions upon the world they will eventually govern. Be friends with your children, but always guide them to do their best at all times.

What personal and professional experiences would you bring to the table as a school board member?

As a long-time professional in IT, small business ownership, and general hobbyist abroad, I believe I have a multifaceted, yet humble outlook. I’m not coming at this in a political, religious, or financial approach, but more of a moral stance.

Why are you running for office?

I have currently been on the board for three years, and am looking to take an additional three-year term to continue to aid the community.

What are the biggest challenges your school district faces?

A full understanding of the differences in the aligned agreement with the Collingswood school district. Oaklyn, as a small community, is dependent on a larger school system, as is Collingswood on the shared services agreement with Oaklyn. I think a better understanding of this relationship would better bring the two communities together, and allow for educational growth.

What are three key issues on which you will focus if elected?

  1. Making the right moral decisions through a lens of equity and understanding of a multicultural community
  2. Progression on education that’s politically and religiously unbiased
  3. Keeping the community involved as much as possible.


Richard Taibi. Credit: Richard Taibi.

Richard Taibi, 46 (Incumbent)

Richard Taibi is the Chief Academic Officer for Bellmawr Public Schools, and a 16-year Oaklyn resident.

Together with his wife, Jaimee, the Taibis are raising two children while caring for pets Cooper the bloodhound and Nettle the cat.

In Rich’s free time, he enjoys reading, listening to records, and spending time with my family.

What is your philosophy of education?

I believe that it is our duty to meet the social-emotional and instructional needs of all the children in our community.

In order to achieve this, we must ensure a positive learning environment that focuses on data-driven instructional practices, social-emotional supports, and community outreach.

Our children must be ready to face the challenges of the future, and it is up to each of us —parents, teachers, administrators, board members and the community—to make this happen by working together.

What personal and professional experiences would you bring to the table as a school board member?

I have been a passionate educator since 2001, and can’t imagine doing anything else. Since then, I have impacted countless students as a music teacher, school principal, and most recently, as a curriculum director. Therefore, I bring a wealth of experience and knowledge with me to each board meeting.

Why are you running for office?

My hope as a member of the Oaklyn Board of Education is to help ensure that the children of Oaklyn receive all the educational opportunities that they need to be successful, and to help impact their lives in a positive way as well.

Having the opportunity to combine my love for our community with my love for education is such an exciting prospect, and I am looking forward to supporting the OPS faculty in our mission.

What are the biggest challenges your school district faces?

One of the biggest challenges we face in education is maximizing the funding we have available to ensure that our students’ needs are met. OPS is no different in this situation, as we seek to provide our children with cutting-edge programming and technology, along with the necessary professional development for teachers to support these initiatives.

This is of particular importance now more than ever as the federal COVID funding/grants come to an end. It is crucial that we are able to maintain all necessary instructional and social-emotional support that have been put into place for our children.

What are three key issues on which you will focus if elected?

If elected, my main focus as a board member, much like my focus as an educator, will be to support curriculum/instruction and student learning. This will include providing feedback and support to the district administration as they review programming and student achievement data.

As an educator, I am also in the unique position to act as a community liaison and provide insights regarding our instructional practices by steering parents and the community in the right direction. This is a crucial role of any board member, and I will work to ensure that the community and board of education are always working together.

Lastly, I hope to play a role in facilitating the conversation between the Oaklyn board of education and that of Collingwood so we can do what is best for our community and our children.

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